The Proposed Parking Lot
UNCA is growing. In the last decade, the university has experienced
a 16% increase in enrollment and 50% increase in freshman enrollment.
Quite simply, there is less and less space for students to park
their cars. This fall, plans to construct new buildings on two existing
parking lots has complicated the parking delimma. To accommodate
the cars of incoming freshmen, UNCA has proposed building a 300-space
parking lot on 2.5 acres of white pine forest as a quick-fix to
their escalating parking problem.
The proposed parking lot project seems out of character for a university
that prides itself on environmental stewardship and community leadership.
Citizens were stunned to learn that the plan had been proposed without
any input from the community that uses and loves this forest. As
a result, two public forums were held on UNCAs campus where
over 250 students, faculty, neighbors and citizens voiced their
concerns about the plan and offered an extensive list of alternatives
for UNCA to consider. Friends of the UNCA Urban Forest was established
to represent the voices opposing the destruction of the forest and
advocating sustainable, alternative solutions.
The UNCA Urban Forest is a green oasis in the middle of the city
that serves as a beloved recreation area for hikers, bikers, runners,
dog-walkers, and nature lovers. Countless students and faculty use
the land, whether as an outdoor biology classroom or a track team
training course. The state-owned forest is one of the best natural
features of the UNCA campus and the most valued urban forest among
Why Its Worth Preserving
The mature white pine trees in this section of the forest offer
more than a shady walk in the woods. Clearing even 2.5 acres for
a parking lot would permanently damage the remaining native hardwood
forests slow but significant progress toward ecological recovery.
Furthermore, in a region of very poor air quality, these trees absorb
toxic auto emissions while releasing oxygen and act as natural water
filters in this watershed. For neighborhood residents, the forest
serves as a "green screen" that reduces noise and "heat-island"
effect in a high-traffic area. As one of the last and largest tracts
of in-tact forest within the city limits, the forest also provides
vital natural habitat for native songbirds, wildflowers, and countless
other species impacted by urban sprawl and increasingly fragmented
There are better alternatives that
should be explored, and our campaign is actively working to bring
these sustainable solutions to the forefront. You can join Friends
of the UNCA Urban Forest by signing
our petition and taking action.
Proposed area for parking lot just off WT Weaver
Boulevard, at the entrance to the Forest Service Research Station.
Map not to scale.